Nicki Minaj Reunites With Lil Wayne and Drake, and 13 More New Songs

Nicki Minaj Reunites With Lil Wayne and Drake, and 13 More New Songs


In honor of Nicki Minaj’s still-incendiary 2009 debut mixtape “Beam Me Up Scotty” finally arriving on streaming services, she’s organized a little YMCMB family reunion. “Seeing Green” is more of a status update than a club banger à la the trio’s classic “Truffle Butter,” but everyone is still in fine form. Wayne, as usual, plays the gonzo court jester, and he seizes the opportunity to unload all of those pandemic-related rhymes he’s been holding onto for the last year (“I put you six feet deep, I’m being socially distant”). Nicki locks back into her standard eviscerate-the-haters flow, and Drake continues to rap with a precision and bite that suggests, as did the recent “Scary Hours 2,” that whenever his promised “Certified Lover Boy” arrives, it might actually be worth the wait. “I played 48 minutes on a torn meniscus,” he boasts, “who’s subbing?” (But maybe see a doctor about that, Drake — it’s serious!) LINDSAY ZOLADZ

The third single from Olivia Rodrigo’s forthcoming debut album, “Sour,” tells a story that will be familiar to anyone who’s heard her first single, “Driver’s License”: A former flame moves on too quickly after a breakup, leaving Rodrigo alone with all her feelings. But this time the 18-year-old Disney actress refracts it through a different lens and a whole new sonic palette. Though it starts off quiet, by the chorus “Good 4 U” explodes into a kind of “You Oughta Know” for the TikTok era, all righteous anger and pop-punky, primal-scream rage: “Good for you, you’re doing great out there without me — like a damn sociopath!” ZOLADZ

The new song from Mackenzie Scott — who makes brooding, searching indie-rock under the name Torres — might be the most accessible thing she’s ever released. And she knows it: She’s wryly described “Don’t Go Putting Wishes in My Head,” the first single from her forthcoming album “Thirstier,” as “my relentless arena country star moment.” More than anything, though, with its buzzing synths and soaring chorus, “Wishes” recalls the Killers at their most fist-clenchingly anthemic. “Just when I thought that it was over, it was only just beginning,” Scott sings, her voice trembling with intensity. She seems to understand that accepting joy can sometimes be an even more vulnerable act than confessing pain, but by the end of the song she sounds fearless, and ready to move toward the light. ZOLADZ

The drummer Tony Allen supplied the rhythmic foundation for Fela Kuti’s Nigerian Afrobeat in the 1960s and 1970s. Drawing on West African traditions, jazz and funk, he built an architecture of unpredictable offbeats, unhurried but kinetic. Before his death in 2020, he had started a hip-hop project, creating beats and synthesizer bass lines and lining up vocalists. Allen’s new album, “There Is No End,” was completed posthumously by the producers Vincent Taeger and Vincent Taurelle. “Mau Mau” features Nah Eeto, a rapper from Kenya, with multitracked vocals that calmly bounce around the syllables of her lyrics — some in English, some not — to highlight all the ways Allen could dodge the downbeat while constantly flicking the music onward. JON PARELES

The rising tenor saxophonist María Grand wrote the tunes that appear on “Reciprocity,” her new LP, in the middle of a pregnancy, while reading spiritual texts and paying close attention to the bond she was building with her not-yet-born child. (The album’s liner notes include her written reflections on becoming a mother, and how this found its way into the music.) The album, featuring Kanoa Mendenhall on bass and Savannah Harris on drums, is also a testament to the constant regeneration that becomes possible within a close musical partnership; on track after track, Grand dances nimbly over Harris’s subtly shifting patterns, and Mendenhall stubbornly insists on never repeating herself. “Now, Take, Your, Day” begins with all three members singing the song’s title in harmony, before the rhythm section lays down a loosely funky beat and Grand introduces the song’s downward-slanting melody on saxophone. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Like many TikTok stars, Bella Poarch is making a move into her own music. “Build a Bitch” comes across cute and furious. Tinkly toy-piano sounds and perky la-las accompany her as she points out that women aren’t consumer products. “You don’t get to pick and choose/Different ass and bigger boobs,” she coos. “If you need perfect, I’m not built for you.” A post-“Westworld” video set in an android factory ends, inevitably, in mayhem. PARELES

The forthcoming, self-produced Sleater-Kinney album “Path of Wellness” will be the first the Portland band releases as a duo, since its longtime power-drummer Janet Weiss departed in 2019, and her absence certainly makes the song feel a bit muted and minor. But there’s still a familiar pleasure in hearing Carrie Brownstein’s snaking guitar riffs and staccato vocals intertwine with Corin Tucker’s, as they sing of a long-term togetherness that’s provided comfort in good times and bad: “If I’m gonna mess up,” they avow, “I’m gonna mess up with you.” ZOLADZ

The official 2020 UEFA European Football Championship song is exactly what you’d expect from a soccer anthem by a big-room EDM D.J. collaborating with half of U2: a grand, thumping march with pinging guitars, vast synthesizer swells and determinedly inspirational lyrics. “You’ve faith and no fear for the fight,” Bono sings, “You pull hope from defeat in the night.” The song uses familiar tools for stadium-scale uplift, but they can still work. PARELES

Regrets and reverb both loom large on Holly Macve’s second album, “Not the Girl,” a set of country-rooted ballads that place her reedy voice — determinedly sustained through countless breaks and quavers — in wide-screen, retro arrangements. “You Can Do Better” is a stately, swaying waltz, a breakup-and-makeup scenario that builds up to dramatic questions, swirling across voices and strings: “Is it so wrong to love you?/Is it so wrong to care?” PARELES

L’Rain — the songwriter, musician and producer Taja Cheek — opens an ever-widening, ever more disorienting sonic vortex in “Blame Me,” from her second album, “Fatigue,” due June 25. Sparse guitars pick fragments of chords that fall, then rise, as L’Rain muses cryptically on mortality and remorse. Soon, they’re enveloped by a ghostly orchestra and distant voices intoning, “Waste away now, make my way down”; as the track ends, she’s still in a lush harmonic and emotional limbo. PARELES

Elaine is from South Africa, where she already has a large audience. But her sound bespeaks international R&B ambitions, with programmed trap drum sounds and an American accent. In “Right Now,” she tries to juggle a damaged relationship against a burgeoning career. “I cannot continue carrying all your insecurities/I got more priorities,” she sings, quietly but adamantly. Her alto is low, intimate and flexible; with her priorities, she’s not about to indulge a cheating ex, even if she’s tempted. PARELES

“Where Have You Gone,” the title song of Alan Jackson’s new, 21-song album, starts off like a lonely lament for someone who’s left him: “It’s been way too long since you slipped away.” But it turns out he’s lamenting the way “sweet country music” used to sound: steel guitar, fiddle, “words from the heart.” It’s the style Jackson has upheld through his career, looking back to Merle Haggard and George Jones, only to see it supplanted lately by arena-country and infiltrations of hip-hop. “The airwaves are waiting,” he insists; current country radio says otherwise. PARELES

Over the rough rhythmic onrush of this United Kingdom-based quartet — featuring Theon Cross’s pulsing tuba, Shabaka Hutchings’s roof-raising saxophone and the interlocked drumming of Edward Wakili-Hick and Tom Skinner — a voice hovers, singing and speaking and laughing. It belongs to Angel Bat Dawid, and it’s soon joined by that of Moor Mother, another revolutionary poet and musician from this side of the Atlantic. “I don’t think you remember me/I was in last place,” Moor Mother begins, serving notice as the band presses ahead. The piece is on “Black to the Future,” Sons of Kemet’s fourth album. RUSSONELLO

Erika Dohi, a Japanese keyboardist and composer now based in New York City, is one of the musicians affiliated with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver’s label 37d03d (“people” upside-down). “Particle Of …” comes from her new album “I, Castorpollux,” and while it was composed by Andy Akiho (who also directed her music video), it fits the album’s aesthetic of Minimalistic repetitions and startling fractures. It uses percussive, single-note patterns on piano and prepared piano, played live and then computer manipulated, equally virtuosic and digitally skewed. Chords arrive at the end, like a surprise visit from 20th-century modernism. PARELES



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